The Dallas Cowboys could be looking at a notable change at left guard.
With the offseason departure of former starting left guard Connor McGovern — he signed a deal with the New York Jets — the Cowboys are now looking for a new starter to fill out the offensive line. As Michael Gehlken of The Dallas Morning News writes, Dallas is considering an “out-of-the-box option” in using right tackle Terence Steele at left guard.
“The Cowboys are sorting through who their primary left guard will be in 2023,” writes Gehlken. “A noticeably leaner Steele is an out-of-the-box option they have considered, but no such move has yet been made. Until he is told otherwise, Steele is focused on rehabbing toward a return to right tackle while others compete at left guard.”
Cowboys Currently Have Logjam at Tackle Positions
The 25-year-old previously started at right tackle for the Cowboys last season prior to suffering a season-ending torn left ACL injury last December. Steele still hasn’t been cleared for full football activities and won’t be for another several weeks.
Due to Steele’s injury, the current starting offensive line would be Tyler Smith at left tackle, Matt Farniok at left guard, Tyler Biadasz at center, Zack Martin at right guard and Tyron Smith at right tackle.
Gehlken explains now that both Smith’s — Tyron missed the majority of last season due to a torn hamstring suffered during training camp — are healthy, there’s a logjam at the tackle position. Such a logjam could force the Cowboys to use Steele — who has been used at tackle during the first three seasons of his career — at left guard.
“Barring injuries elsewhere, Steele’s eventual return will cause a logjam at tackle. Logically, the team could make room for Steele by flipping Tyron Smith to left tackle and sliding Tyler Smith to left guard,” writes Gehlken. “Be it a desire to keep Tyler at left tackle or a reason related to Steele’s recovery, the main thinking for mulling a Steele move to left guard is not known.”
Following Steele’s season-ending injury last December, Tyron stepped in and started at right tackle to finish out the season.
Why the Cowboys Will Likely Use Terence Steele at Left Guard
The idea of shifting Steele to left guard makes sense considering he’s one of their best offensive linemen. There’s no way that Dallas chooses to keep Steele on the bench simply because both Smith’s are available to play tackle this season.
According to Pro Football Focus, Steele posted a solid 73.9 offensive grade and a stellar 82.1 run-blocking grade last season. His offensive grade ranked 23rd among all offensive tackles (with at least 200 snaps) and his run-blocking grade ranked sixth.
Farniok does have experience starting at left guard, playing the majority of the Cowboys’ season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season and then starting the ensuing two games. However, he posted low grades in all three of those games, posting a 48.7 grade against the Buccaneers, 33.9 offensive grade versus the Cincinnati Bengals and 54.3 offensive grade against the New York Giants.
While Steele may not have experience at the left guard position, it may be the best possible outcome if the Cowboys are to keep him in the starting lineup.